Are schools doing enough to support parents and children in tackling extremism?

To help parents get insight on how schools should be helping them to tackle the issue of extremism with their children, our panellist offer insight on what more schools can do to give parents a guiding hand.

Sajda Mughal OBE

Sajda Mughal OBE

CEO of JAN Trust, Campaigner and Consultant

Expert Website

In 2015 the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act placed legal responsibility upon schools to “prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.” However, through the work we do at JAN Trust we believe that more could be done to support parents and children.

It is vital that schools create an environment where parents and teachers are able to develop an open and honest dialogue with young people about the threat poses by extremist influences. JAN Trust has worked with a number of schools across the UK, to deliver our Safeguarding from Extremism (SAFE) schools workshops for students, teachers and parents.

JAN Trust has extensive experience in researching the issue of extremism; we know that by engaging with youth and listening to their grievances – whether it is isolation or bullying – steps can be taken to prevent a vulnerable young person becoming at risk. By the end of the workshop, participants leave understanding how they can prevent themselves, their peers, their children, or their students from turning to extremism. Unlike other training, our workshops are not controversial and are aimed at encouraging community cohesion, rather than isolating communities.

For more information about our work, please visit: www.jantrust.org

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Jade Gayle

Jade Gayle

Education, Employability and Safeguarding Programme Manager, Kidscape

Expert Website

Schools typically see their duty to prevent young people from being drawn into terrorism as a safeguarding issue. Under the government’s statutory Prevent duty, schools currently refer pupils they suspect of being radicalised, for external support from Channel panels. However preventative early-support in schools for parents and children is inconsistent.

Some schools provide their students with lessons around the issue, but currently, provision is patchy and there is no ‘best practice’. Schools need to embed critical thinking skills for pupils across the whole-school curriculum. Such skills need to be age-appropriately introduced from infant school and built upon through secondary and post-16 education.

Additionally, given that school attendance typically only makes up 1/3 of a young person’s day, schools must work with parents in tackling the issue of radicalisation. This includes providing guidance to families about the issue and ensuring this is accessible to those who may not have English as a first language. Additionally, parents need clear guidance on where to access support or help outside of the school day or term. Lastly, schools need to ensure that both their staff and parents/carers understand the latest social networks, how radicalisation takes place and how young people are using the internet if they are to be able to effectively challenge extremist narratives and methods.

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Adam Deen

Adam Deen

Executive Director (UK), Quilliam International

Expert Website

Aside from their own homes, schools are where young people spend the most time, making them a safety net that provides practical support against radicalisation and extremism if the individual is not receiving this support at home.

Schools should aim to provide a strong sense of community and belonging, so that young people are less likely to be tempted to subscribe to the membership of other harmful groups, such as gangs, drug circles, and extremist organisations.

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